“The perception is completely different from the reality, and it didn’t fit me as a person,” Wasikowska tells IndieWire of why she fled Hollywood to move back to Australia, where her new film Blueback is set.
Mia Wasikowska seemed to be everywhere at one point. Since 2010, the young actress has had a seemingly endless string of plum roles in both independent films and studio productions, from Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre to Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are All Right, and Maps to the Theater. Stars, Numbers, ‘Stoker’ and ‘Crimson Peak’. But that seemed to stop when Tim Burton’s “Wonderland” sequel, “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” splashed out, a financial hemorrhaging for Disney that also took a critical hit, though not for Wasikowska’s performance. Then a not-unknown phenomenon occurred: the once sought-after, ubiquitous performer suddenly seemed to disappear.
Well, the Aussie actress never went away, exactly – she just stepped out of the limelight. “There are a lot of things I want to do in life other than a trailer,” he told IndieWire in a recent interview discussing his new film Blueback , an endearing environmental message film directed by veteran Australian filmmaker Robert Connolly. In it, she plays an oceanographer named Abby who discovers a rare species of fish and protects it from poachers.
A succession of high-profile projects has led Wasikowska to question whether she’s burned out—and why she’s putting up with the unspecified abuse typical of up-and-comers, especially women. (“I think it would be hard to find a young woman who has not experienced abuse, inappropriate experiences or behavior towards them” he told the Sydney Morning Herald last year.)
“I didn’t really like the lifestyle of having each other’s backs. I’m really cut off from any larger community,” he said, approached from Sydney. “I’ve been doing it since I was 17, but more like 15, but I really worked a lot at 17, I spent 10-15 years, completely like a new city, a new country, every three months, and it’s like starting school again. every few months. Especially when you’re younger, when you don’t have that foundation, I found it very difficult. At the same time, maybe if the yield is good and you feel really good, then that’s fine, but I didn’t, so I wanted to establish that for myself on a personal level and feel it more, not just a movie set that ends every few weeks.”
So Wasikowska abandoned Hollywood and moved back to her home of Sydney in the late 2010s, where she has remained ever since, in addition to working on independent projects with directors she admires, including Mia Hansen-Løve in 2021’s Bergman island”. However, it seems like it’s been a while since he was the main character.
And that’s not the case with ‘Blueback’ either. Wasikowska isn’t as present here as fans might hope: she plays a grown-up version of a younger Abby who ends up dominating the story. Neither is his co-star Eric Bana, who has what amounts to a cameo in the film as a bearded fisherman, but he ended up as an executive producer to boost his platform.
In what seems like a pervasively hopeless attitude toward environmental doom, “Blueback” is an oddly resonant clarion call for… positivity about our current moment? Or at least trying to feed into a certain kind of optimism instead of us collectively walking the complacent path to self-destruction.
It’s not typical of the actress known as a “jolly psychopath” (“I loved (wearing) that prosthetic thing”) to David Cronenberg and a Victorian Gothic heroine to Guillermo del Toro, or more recently as the tormented wife and murder victim of an evangelical preacher, Antonio In “The Devil Always” by Campos.
“Maps to the Stars”
Focus on Services/Courtesy of Everett Collect / Everett Collection
“It’s a lot more fun to play a character who isn’t a role model. As an actor, you can express all these things that (where) in real life you shouldn’t be like that and you should be angry. It’s a lot of fun to play crazy, crazy, angry characters. Then, you know, there are times when you want to bring out the best in people,” he said.
Is Wasikowska missing out on a role? Todd Haynes’ Carol, in which she was cast as shopgirl Therese Belivet in 2012, eventually went to Rooney Mara — and won Mara a Best Actress award at Cannes before the film became a timeless piece of queer iconography.
“I stuck with it for a long time, and then a few things happened and the shooting got pushed back and I signed Guillermo (del Toro)’s Crimson Peak. So I signed and started talking to Guillermo and “Carol” came back and they said, “We’re going!” And I was like, “I can’t right now,” so yeah, it was a big bummer. That’s just part of it. You win some, you lose some.”
Will Wasikowska ever return to Hollywood full-time? This is unlikely. “I am quite satisfied. If I can have the best of both worlds, dipping in and out from time to time, I’d be very happy, but I’d never be in that place where I’d only be on the treadmill. I want to do more things in life, not in a trailer. It’s great and there’s a lot of great things, (but) the perception is very different from the reality and it didn’t work for me as a person. You can really lose perspective because they treat you quite strangely. When that’s your only reality, it’s pretty weird.”